STATEN ISLAND, NY — If you have itchy and red bites on your body, you may have bed bugs.
Pest control company Terminix notes that bed bugs are a nasty and nasty problem — and signs and symptoms of an infestation can be hard to spot at first. To the untrained eye, bed bug bites could be mistaken for other insects.
The common bed bug has long been a pest — feeding on blood, causing itchy bites and generally irritating its human hosts, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
New York City was recently ranked third in Orkin’s list of the 50 Best Bed Bug Cities of 2022. The company, which provides pest control services, ranked the metro areas where bed bugs were most frequently reported.
The EPA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all consider bed bugs to be public health pests.
However, unlike most public health pests, bed bugs are not known to transmit or spread disease. But they can cause other public health problems, so paying close attention to bed bug prevention and control is important.
The insects are typically 3/16 inch long, red to dark brown in color, and mostly nocturnal. They come out of hiding to take blood meals from sleeping humans. They are hematophagous, meaning blood is their only source of nutrition. You can easily travel from place to place and hold on to items like luggage, purses, and other personal belongings.
The pests are known for rapid population growth as females can lay one to five eggs per day and can lay 200 to 500 eggs in their lifetime. They can survive for several months while waiting for their next blood meal, so they’re likely to emerge when a food source like humans becomes available.
Here are eight simple signs that Terminix says can help you determine if you have a bed bug problem.
1. Red and itchy bite marks
People don’t usually think about bed bugs until they leave a bite mark.
The appearance of flat, red welts in zigzags or small clusters is a key sign of bed bugs in humans, according to Terminix. They can also leave their bites in straight lines, and while they don’t spread disease, their bites are irritating. Scratching can cause bleeding and infection.
2. Uncomfortable when sleeping
Bed bugs are most commonly found in beds, so it makes sense that they’re most active at night while people are sleeping.
If you find yourself developing these itchy welts while you’re lying in bed asleep or trying to sleep, you probably have bed bugs.
3. Marked arms and shoulders
Terminix points out that bed bugs tend to feed on exposed skin like your arms and shoulders, which you may leave uncovered when you sleep. This differs from fleas and chiggers, which tend to bite around the knuckles.
4. A stroller bed
The First Sign of a Bed Bug Problem? The bed. After bed bugs feed on humans, they leave blood stains that resemble small rust spots. These are usually located near the corners and edges of the bed.
Bed bugs also molt, or molt — multiple times as they mature — so if you search, you might find their oval-shaped brown exoskeletons, Terminix said.
5. Unpleasant smells
A strong, unpleasant, musty smell — like a wet towel — is another common sign of bed bugs. Bed bugs release pheromones, and when they are in large numbers, this smell can be strong. So if you find that your bedroom smells like a dirty dressing room, you should check it for bed bugs.
6. Examine the bed
Pull off the mattress and the box spring bed and carefully inspect the corners and seams. Use a magnifying glass and flashlight to check for bed bugs, Terminix says. They look for rust-colored, reddish-brown bloodstains and/or small brown ovals (bed bug skin).
7. Inspect the room
After searching the bed, you should inspect the rest of the room. Check everything that has upholstery, including chairs, sofas, curtains, and the edges of the rug. Look in and behind dressers, under the bed – and behind the headboard if possible. Always keep an eye out for the distinctive reddish-brown spots, Terminix says.
8. Open the closet
Bed bugs can also become attached to clothing, according to Terminix. This allows them to travel and spread, so be sure to check your closets and check your clothing thoroughly. Bed bugs on clothes mean they are on people.
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